Ukrainian troops have successfully established positions on the eastern side of the Dnieper River, leading to speculation that it could be the beginning of Kyiv’s anticipated spring counteroffensive. The Washington-based think tank, the Institute for the Study of War, reported that Ukrainian troops had secured a foothold near the town of Oleshky, with “stable supply lines” to their positions. If Ukraine proceeds with its counteroffensive in the spring, analysts believe a significant objective would be to break through the land corridor between Russia and the annexed Crimean Peninsula, requiring crossing the Dnieper River in the south.
Natalia Humeniuk, the spokeswoman for Ukraine’s Operational Command South, has called for patience in response to Ukrainian media reports proclaiming that the establishment of these positions indicated the counteroffensive’s beginning. Humeniuk stated that it was “very difficult work” to cross a powerful river like the Dnieper when the front line passes through it.
The Kremlin-installed head of the Kherson region denied on Sunday that Ukrainian forces have established a foothold on the east bank of the Dnieper. Vladimir Saldo speculated that the images referenced by the Institute for the Study of War may have depicted Ukrainian sabotage units that “managed to take a selfie” across the Dnieper before being forced back.
After more than a year since the Russian invasion, recent fighting has become a war of attrition, with neither side able to gain momentum. However, Ukraine has recently received sophisticated weapons from its Western allies, and new troops freshly trained in the West, increasing anticipation of a counteroffensive.
In the Donetsk region, Russia is struggling to encircle the city of Bakhmut in the face of dogged Ukrainian defense. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov claimed Moscow’s forces had captured two more neighborhoods in the western part of Bakhmut, without clarifying what areas were still in Ukrainian hands.
The Dnieper has marked the contact line in the Kherson region, where its namesake capital is regularly pummeled by shelling from Russian forces stationed across the river. The Institute for the Study of War stated that Ukrainian troops had also approached the nearby village of Dachi, citing data from Russian military bloggers. The posts claimed that Ukrainian forces had maintained these positions for weeks and established stable supply lines to them, indicating a lack of Russian control over the area.
The think tank cited comments from financier Yevgeniy Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner Group, a private Russian military company whose fighters have spearheaded the offensive on Bakhmut. On Saturday, Prigozhin argued that Russian forces need to “anchor (themselves) in such a way that it is only possible to tear them out with (the) opponent’s claws.”
As Moscow seeks to bolster its troop numbers, the U.K. Ministry of Defense noted Sunday in an intelligence briefing that Russian authorities had mounted a large-scale military recruitment campaign using social media, billboards, and state television.
In attacks overnight, Russian forces launched at least five S-300 missiles at Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, damaging an industrial facility and private homes. In Kherson, one civilian was killed, and two were wounded as Russian troops used artillery, drones, and warplanes to launch a total of 54 strikes on the province. Russian forces dropped five guided aerial bombs over the Kherson region, damaging multiple residential buildings, but causing no casualties.
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